Crab salad with spring onions and radishes, served with acocado slices - the classic. The alpha male approach to crab is to grab a live crustacean and plunge it into boiling water, claws waving.
Cranberry gingerbread cake, sweet and tart, spiced and festive. Totally perfect for those freaks like me who detest Christmas pudding and fruit cake.
Cranberry ketchup is a sweet, sour and salty condiment with a festive tang, excellent with roast meats instead of the usual cranberry sauce. Tomato ketchup is what springs to mind these days but it wasn’t always so - fish as above, mushroom in 18th century and even walnuts here and there.
Simple and easy cranberry sauce to serve with your turkey. It can be made well ahead of time as it stores well in the fridge. If you prefer it a little tarter, reduce the amount of sugar.
Jerusalem artichokes cooked in cream with garlic and tarragon, then baked au gratin style. This dish is supposed to be made with potatoes: sliced thinly, accompanied with herbs and garlic, a bit of onion, a bit of leek and – wait for this – cooked in cream. Literally. Boiled in copious quantity of double cream. Decadent or what?
Creamed corn with blue cheese and fresh ripe tomatoes. Creamed corn in fact is now my number one method of cooking corn and that’s how I’ll continue until the end of the summer and beyond – it’s gorgeous.
One pan creamy chicken with leeks and mushrooms. Chicken template. Chicken archetype. Basically, you can chuck in any vegetables and seasoning you like or think will go with chicken and cream (which is just about EVERYTHING)...
Creamy mushrooms - a great side dish. This is one of the best methods of cooking mushrooms in my view - it works fantastically with wild ones in particular. If you can get hold of fresh porcini, morels or ceps, follow the steps below.
Crispy fried chicken with a spicy rub, extra crunchy in coating of cornmeal and panko breadcrumbs. It’s interesting how words can change the taste of food. An astonishingly awful lot of people react negatively not as much to the taste of a dish but to its name.
Crispy spicy roasted chickpeas with red peppers and mushrooms. Chickpeas are funny little things - they look nothing like peas to start with but more like little nuts. Why aren’t they called chicknuts?
Crispy tobacco onions - they had me at first bite. There weren’t too many bites to follow because the Former Onion Hater took care of most of the bowl. They go best with steak, chops and burgers – but you might just polish them on their own given a chance...
Croissants made with overnight proving dough laminated with butter. If you’re lucky enough to be living in France you get them from your boulangerie, but actually there's nothing like the homemade thing in terms of flavour. Is it difficult?
Croquants aux amandes, French almond cookies. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure if these cookies should be crunchy or gooey. ‘Croquant’ suggests the former, meaning precisely that, but I found the ones baked a bit less nicer.
Crunchy, melting in the mouth biscuits, a bit like Fox’s Crunch and Creams only better. Crunchy is good when it melts in your mouth and tastes of butter and sugar - which is basically what the biscuit is made of.
Crunchy cabbage salad with chopped gherkins and vinaigrette dressing. Raw shredded cabbage is better than the best lettuce, and this salad recipe is the absolute go-to garnish for tacos, gyros, summer rolls and all dishes that want for a bit of crunchy flavoursome greenery.
New potatoes, lightly crushed to release the flavour, with sour, spicy and herby topping. Just boil them until tender, serve with plenty of butter and some dill – a must, marriage made in heaven. Tarragon or mint as an alternative.
Cupcakes with smashed blueberries and lemon zest. Whatever you call these, and I decided in the end to rechristen them ‘cupcakes’, they are damn nice.
Curried mussels with saffron and ginger, steamed in light creamy sauce. No, I still don’t like curries. One of the very few dishes that revolt me, out there with mushy peas, kale, barley and any veiny, tendony, gelatinous meat.
Danish bagel wheels, savoury pastry pinwheels with sesame, poppy and almonds. A savoury twist on raisin wheels, these pastries are made the easy way: the laminating process, usually so troublesome, is shortened here by maturing the dough in the fridge for a couple of days.
Danish pastries with jam and raisin wheels - brushed with lemon icing. Just about the best thing ever – laminated dough. On average I bet people don’t realise that it’s actually simple bread dough enriched with butter.
Shortbread bars with date, orange and cinnamon filling. Sadly - this won't be about All Bar One, speed dating or trendy wine places. Shame, I know, but then I don't know much about speed dating, in fact haven't dated much at all recently.
Dome cake made with genoise sponge filled with raspberry mousse and buttercream. A lot of faff, admittedly, but it definitely delivers the ‘wow’ factor.
An old fashioned Bundt cake that tastes just like a giant doughnut. It smells like a homely doughnut not a Dunkin’, which is a good thing.
Easy chocolate brownie, intense and fudgy but unbelievably quick to make. My best to date recipe for brownie is quite intricate, with beating eggs to a fluff and then folding and folding.
Easy Danish dough, homemade apple and raspberry filling. So what you are supposed to do is simply mix the butter a bit with yeasty flour and some liquid, leave it in the fridge and then roll out once or twice.
Easy kouign amann, butter pastry from Brittany. My recipe is a cheat’s kouign amann, easier to make and not quite as calorific as the traditional Breton pastry
Ebi fry, Japanese style breaded and deep fried shrimp with tonkatsu sauce. Ebi-furai can fortuitously be pronounced ‘ebi fry’ and that’s what it is: shrimp fry. It’s not katsu - I’ve spent some time around various websites featuring katsu, tonkatsu and such, only to find that there is no ebi katsu.
Posh restaurant-style muffins with blueberries and tender, moist crumb. This is a recipe out of Professional Chef. It’s good, it’s cheffy, the muffins stay fresh several days and they are not really muffins but more cakey things that you see in fancy restaurants for petit fours.
Fennel and gorgonzola fettucine - I love pasta. I could eat pasta every day, if it only didn’t contain carbs. Since it does (hell, what other reason it tastes so good?), it’s an occasional treat.
Fennel and orange salad. The best thing about raw fennel is that it’s really a wonderful and versatile background for endless variants. I’ve used orange but any other large citrus fruit will do nicely. Ah well, you can even skip the citrus and just dress it with lemon juice...
Savoury tart with fennel and taleggio filling; a vegetarian version of a classic British pie. My offering to vegetarians who like pies, this is actually better the next day at room temperature, if there’s any left.
Feta saganaki with caramelised figs. Saganaki is a Greek dish of anything cooked and served in a small skillet, cheese saganaki the most popular.
Feta cheese, roasted grapes and crunchy walnuts is a perfect combination of juicy, sweet, crunchy and salty. I roast grapes like I like to roast summer berries when so plentiful they get a little tired: sprinkled with very little sugar and blasted with big brief heat.
Fig confit with fresh fig chunks in madeira syrup, great with cheese or charcuterie. Something with figs but not jam was the objective. Why not jam?
Filo pastry snails with mushroom, spinach and cheese filling. The original recipe for these snails calls for feta cheese. It actually calls for roasted fennel instead of spinach but here I think my improvement has worked – spinach in filo pastry is a classic after all.
Classic English fish and chips: crispy chip shop style batter and double cooked chips. I consulted Heston Blumenthal’s recipe for perfect fish and chips in order to produce mine; with the batter sans vodka (we don’t waste spirits in cooking).
Fish pie topped with a crispy layer of sliced potatoes. Use the best fish you can, not just sad offcuts from the bottom of the freezer. The combination of ingredients is anyone’s flight of fancy and I have stuck to the classic selection: haddock fresh, haddock smoked, salmon and prawns.
Five spice duck is an excellent dish. The duck is nice and pink (or so it should be to my liking, feel free to cook it a bit longer) and one good size fillet serves two easily.
Five spice shrimp with greens and crispy noodles. This is different to your usual stir fry: it’s a warm stir fried salad. The crispy noodles are totally optional: you can do soft noodles or no noodles.
Quick refrigerator pickles made with cucumbers, asparagus and carrot slices. There are some quite peculiar myths concerning food and eating that people believe in.
Fondant carrots cooked in a butter and water emulsion, with caraway and cinnamon. This method of cooking carrots is similar to carrots Vichy, but there you start off with carrots in water, brought to the boil and butter added later.
Celeriac fondant is a lovely way of cooking one of the more boring vegetables. Fondant - most often potatoes - are cooked in both butter and liquid. They should be cut in a very fancy way, in a shape of little barrels, then placed in a pan into foaming butter.
Fried sliced mushrooms, cooked in butter and a little oil, perfect for breakfast. Who will argue that the simplest things are the best? You can add all kinds of seasoning to mushrooms, cheeses and creams; you can roast them or grill them or deep fry them; cook them whole or chop them up; have them raw if that’s what you fancy – but nothing beats crisp and golden slices fried in butter.
Fruity, nut free mince pies made from scratch: the best shortcrust pastry and delicious fruit filling. I never used to like mince pies until I made them at home. The fact is that all shop-bought pies, even the posh, fancy, Hestonised and overpriced numbers taste mainly of too much orange peel and too much booze. As much as I’m the last person to complain about too much booze, I like to keep it separate from cakes. And orange peel is usually nasty, unless you make it yourself (I don’t) or spend quite a bit more money than even Waitrose Cook’s Ingredients charge.
Scones are tricky. Scones are a thing of beauty if you get them right. I have had several goes at them before Dan Lepard came to rescue with his recipe from Short & Sweet – The Best of Home Baking.
Christmas fruit cake - lighter in colour and in taste but still rich and full of raisins, berries, apricots, figs and almonds. It keeps very well but needn’t be made weeks ahead of Christmas – tastes best when it had been standing for a couple of days.
Pizza margherita with ham, made in a frying pan, the perfect homemade from scratch. It can be a real treat and not just a takeaway easy option, if you follow a few simple rules.
Galette des rois, an elegant treat for the night of Epiphany, or any other time during the twelve days of Christmas. There are some lovely traditions associated with the galette: a ‘fève’ is hidden inside the cake - a tiny china figurine or an almond - and the lucky person to find it (and not choke on it) is crowned a king or queen for the carnival.
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